hidell brooks is capping off the year with a phenomenal solo exhibition for north carolina artist herb jackson opening this friday. across time gives the viewer the rare opportunity to see 40 years of the artist’s work hung together for the first time. viewing the paintings as a body of work a clear path of discover can be seen from one painting to the next. the early work from the 70’s is in one room and is the foundation for herb’s discovers starting with the movement of the brushstroke. those discovers have been made from years and years of time spent in his studio in davidson, north carolina. working out life on a canvas is a commitment and is time consuming. this show is a testament to a life well lived on the surface and underneath.
herb jackson grew up in rural raliegh. as a child he was obsessed with discovers found digging in the dirt and the surface textures in the woods behind his house. a simple art project using layers of crayons and a paperclip to expose the layers underneath opened his eyes to the mysteries of art. he started going to the north carolina museum of art regularly in high school and decided to figure out what makes a painting worthy of being in a museum. herb received his undergraduate degree from davidson college and three years later he earned his master's degree in fine arts from the university of north carolina at chapel hill. in 1969, while finishing up his graduate studies, jackson began teaching at davidson. he soon became the chair of the art department which he held for 16 years. he retired from teaching in 2011. jackson's work is now in more than 80 collections including the british museum in london and the brooklyn museum in new york city.
i am often asked how my work has changed with time. it is far easier to show you than to explain, so i am taking this opportunity to juxtapose paintings from as early as 40 years ago with current work.
the subconscious ocean that the artist swims in is deep and grows deeper with the years. it has many currents that can be followed, but the swimmer is contained by the shores of life experience, so the resulting paintings take on recognizable characteristics. fortunately, the artist cannot predict the later work, but in retrospect the seeds for it are found in the earlier work.
my process is to build paintings by putting on and immediately removing a layer, leaving a residue of the new application in some places and covering it in others by the subsequent layer. it is a metaphor for the life process.
the individual is formed through layers of experience.
the ever shifting constructed self is revealed through the excavated layers of transformed memory.
the concerns of my mature work have remained consistent while the final form has changed and evolved. i am still interested in the meditation of layering and revealing buried information, but there are more layers now (often 100 or more in the new work). the surface texture is more dependent on scraping compared to the earlier accretion of paint left by the drag of the brush. intense color has always been an interest, but in the 1970’s it was hidden under layers of lighter value. less of it is buried now. you will see similar mark-making in all the paintings.
it is a pleasure for me to bring out a number of paintings that have never been shown or offered to collectors to hang with the new pieces. i hope they will relate to you and each other across time.
-herb jackson 2018
one day in the studio herb was frustrated with a color and impulsively picked up a nail to scrape off the paint. in an instant he used the nail to expose the layers underneath just as he had as a child with the paperclip and crayons. up to that point he had been focused on the technique of applying the paint and brushstrokes. now the focus would shift to removal. herb’s paintings are built up in many layers which are scraped off as they are being applied. shapes and marks come and go as the painting develops to a hundred or more layers. the final outcome is the result of a process of discovery similar to the life experience itself. in 1999, herb jackson was given the north carolina award by the governor. this is the highest civilian honor bestowed by the state. for us as art dealers and native north carolinians to have this exhibition for herb jackson who we have both know since the late 80’s is a huge deal. the perfect ending to our 20th year celebration and life coming full circle.
all available work by herb jackson can be viewed on his artist’s page. the opening is from 6-8 pm tonight and the artist will be present. please call the gallery if you have any questions concerning the exhibition